Five-Spice Tofu Stir-Fry with Carrots and Celery

Five-Spice Tofu Stir-Fry with Carrots and Celery

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  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil, divided
  • 8 ounces savory baked five-spice tofu cakes (about 2 squares), cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 2 cups matchstick-size strips carrots (about 3 medium)
  • 2 cups matchstick-size strips celery (about 3 long stalks)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped rinsed canned Szechuan preserved vegetable (about 1 1/4 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or dry Sherry
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

Recipe Preparation

  • Heat 14-inch-diameter flat-bottomed wok or heavy 12-inch-diameter skillet over high heat until drop of water added to wok evaporates on contact. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil and swirl, then add tofu and stir-fry until tofu just begins to brown, about 1 minute. Transfer tofu to plate. Add remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil to same wok (do not clean). Add carrots, celery, and Szechuan preserved vegetable and stir-fry until carrots are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Return tofu to wok; add rice wine, salt, sugar, and white pepper. Stir-fry to blend, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; stir in sesame oil and serve.

,Photos by Pornchai MittongtareReviews Section

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Carrots and celery are both crunchy root vegetables that are softer and easier to chew when cooked. Cooking celery and carrots also changes the flavor slightly, making them both taste a little sweeter. Steaming, boiling and sauteing are all great ways to cook carrots and celery. You should chop the vegetables before steaming and boiling, but cut them into thin, matchstick-size strips for quick sauteing.

Recipe: Celery Stir-Fried with Pressed Tofu(芹菜炒香干)

Pressed tofu is an extremely delicious food made by pressing firm tofu until there are no holes inside anymore so it becomes drier and firmer, then it is cooked in five spice flavored soy sauce. Besides being vegetarian, it is also an extremely delicious food and is high in protein. Pressed tofu can also be smoked (in this case, I think that it is not cooked in the five-spice soy sauce).

I have already made a recipe with pressed tofu and Lao Gan Ma sauce, and the recipe can be found here. However, this dish is spicy, and some people do not eat spicy food. There are many ways to prepare pressed tofu, and this extremely easy-to-make stir-fry with celery is one of the most delicious as well as being non-spicy. In Chinese, this dish is known as 芹菜炒香干 (qin cai chao xiang gan, pronounced “tseen tsai chall syahng gun” with no silent t, literally “celery vegetable stir-fry fragrant dry”). There are many variants of this dish from place to place and household to household. (That’s why there are so many optional ingredients!) It is a very popular dish to eat in both homes and restaurants. Enjoy!

Adapted from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop. I seriously recommend all authentic Chinese food lovers to buy all of Fuchsia Dunlop’s cookbooks because they are amazing!

9 oz five-spice pressed tofu (五香豆腐干 wu xiang dou fu gan, pronounced “woo syahng doh foo gun” with oo as in cool, literally meaning: five fragrant bean curd dry. I love the Furuma brand, labeled “Savory Baked Tofu”, but it comes in packs of 12 oz. You can make some extra and add a little more celery. Or, you can use the extra for another dish.) OR smoked pressed tofu
7 oz Chinese celery or western celery (this is about 3 stalks western celery)
a red chili pepper or some red bell pepper (optional, for color. You can also use a small carrot.)
1 tsp finely minced garlic (optional)
1 tsp finely minced ginger (optional)
white or black pepper (optional)
light and dark soy sauces (dark is optional)
cooking oil (peanut, canola, soybean, avocado, extra light olive, anything that can stand higher heat. NO EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL)
1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)

1. Julienne the pressed tofu.
2. Julienne the celery. Julienne the pepper (or carrot) if using.
3. OPTIONAL: Heat the wok or skillet, add 1.5 tbsp oil, and stir-fry the pressed tofu for a couple of minutes. This makes it more fragrant. However, the step is optional. Set aside the pressed tofu onto a plate.
*Chinese cooking tip: Don’t measure oil with a spoon unless you are REALLY new to cooking. Otherwise, always estimate. I also estimate measurements of soy sauce and other sauces, but this is only recommended after you get more experienced.*
4. Heat the wok and add 2.5 tbsp oil if you did not stir-fry the tofu, or add 1 tbsp oil if you did. Add the ginger and garlic if using and stir-fry until fragrant.
5. Add the celery and pepper/carrot if using. Add a couple pinches salt and stir-fry for a minute or two to cook the vegetables.
6. Add the pressed tofu and stir-fry until hot. Add salt to taste and pepper if using. Add 1 tsp light soy sauce and a little dark soy sauce for color if desired. Stir-fry for 30 seconds or so, then taste for salt. This dish does not have a sauce, and only has a tsp of soy sauce, so you may need more salt. If needed, add more salt until it tastes good.
7. Turn off the heat and stir in the sesame oil if desired.
8. Serve with cooked white or brown rice, a stir-fried green leafy vegetable, and maybe a meat dish if desired. Enjoy!

Equipment You Need to Stir Fry


The traditional equipment for stir frying is a wok and a stiff spatula. I like to use a bamboo spatula or a metal fish turner if my wok is made from steel. If I have a non-stick wok, I prefer a silicone spatula with metal support inside. Avoid floppy spatulas because it makes the food very hard to stir and turn over quickly.

I’ve tried non-stick and carbon steel woks. They have pros and cons, which I won’t dive into because it’s complex and depends on your preferences. I recommend starting with whatever pan you have today. If you have a wok, terrific — use it. If you don’t, you can use the deepest frying pan you have. I’ve stir fried in saucepans and soup pots before when I was worried oil would splatter all over the stovetop. Start with what you have and you can buy a wok if you decide you like stir frying and want to invest in equipment to make it easier.

Halloumi: The Story Of!

  • Halloumi was born on the island of Cyprus and was the pride of this culture! It dates back as far as 395 AD- 1191 AD during the Medieval Byzantine period.
  • It would not be uncommon to see villages come together as a community to make huge batches, because Cypriot farmers relied on the protein from Halloumi for sustenance. This cheese became varied from village to village, as each had their own special techniques and secret ingredients.
  • Halloumi became so important that many families took on Halloumi as a surname, resulting in last names like Halloumas, Halluma, and Hallumakis becoming very common into the 19th century.
  • It has many names as its popularity grew through the middle east and as far as Italy. Turks call it Hemlin, it is known to Arabs as Hallum, however, Italians call it Halloumi or Calumi.
  • Today it can be found in many cultures and countries and has become an amazing ingredient in many recipes.
  • Halloumi is a hard white cheese made from unpasteurized goat and sheep's milk, and today cow's milk is added because it makes it more budget savvy.
  • This cheese has a high melting point and can be an incredibly amazing appetized grilled or fried.
  • Halloumi has become a key element in the cultures of Lebanon, Egypt, and also including Sudan. Its widespread popularity has even made its way to us in Canada. A country proud of the pool of multiculturalism and the plethora of cultural recipes and ingredients. Vive la Halloumi!

Wow! Lots of interesting knowledge on Halloumi. I'm so inspired to use this amazing cheese in our fusion of east meets west resulting in our recipe today Halloumi and Vegetable Stir Fry!

To tell you the truth, it was only in the past few months that I had the chance to taste Halloumi. I had tried Saganaki fried with olive oil and lemon juice and spices which I have to say I love! When I tasted the halloumi fried with some spices and seasoning I found it similar in texture to a cheese we eat in Italy called Primo Sale.

How did I think of using it in a stir-fry, well through another blogger, go figure! I think food is about tradition and classic recipes, however, it is also nice to dive into some adventurous territory and fuse culture, flavor and texture to create a delectably scrumptious stunning dish.

With adventure, inspiration, my friend creativity at my side and a basis to start from, finally let's create Halloumi and Vegetable Stir Fry!

What vegetables did we use?

  • Red peppers
  • Green peppers
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Ginger

Realistically, this dish is a real vegetable fridge crisper cleaner-upper. I say use what you have in your fridge or pantry. As you know our motto is "Waste not, Want not"!

To get the Halloumi nice and crisp I stir-fried it in some veg oil and sesame oil with some garlic and ginger. I can hear you now "you didn't use lemongrass?" My answer is of course, yes!

I love how this cheese holds together. We cut it in small rectangles and the crispness on the surface of this Halloumi is absolutely incredible.

Helpful tips:

  • To get a nice crisp halloumi, get the wok and oil nice and hot.
  • For quick-cooking cut vegetables evenly and not too large.
  • When stir-frying, start with the hardest vegetables like carrots, celery etc, then start to put the other veggies in from hardest to cook to softest like the zucchini and onion, as a result evenly cooked vegetables.
  • Stir-fry the halloumi first before anything then add it in at the end when the veggies are just about done.

Oh wow, I taste the Chinese five spice and all the other seasoning. What really strikes me is the texture, similar to firm tofu. Love that crisp meets soft tender interior profile, due to this cheese high melting point.

Okay, let's get this dish done so we can EAT!

I decided on a light Asian rice noodle to be the base of the dish. What I love about these types of noodles is they are easy and quick to cook, hence time saved and more time for fun things like eating! Into a boiling pot of water they go. A few minutes pass then drain and place in a hot wok to fry up. You gotta love those crisp edges that appear as that hot oil and metal sear the noodles a bit.

Why the eggs you ask?

As you can see above, I added a couple of eggs after I seasoned the noodles with five spice, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and some veggie broth. Well, I kept thinking of fried rice and those luscious soft bits of egg that melt in your mouth, as a result in went the eggs. That's how I cook most of the time, "intuitively"!

Let's recap:

  • Firstly, prep, cut vegetables and halloumi.
  • Season and stir-fry Halloumi, set aside.
  • Secondly, stir-fry veggies with garlic, ginger, and Asian-infused veggie broth. Add in cooked Halloumi.
  • Thirdly, cook noodles and stir-fry till nicely coated and crispy on the edges. Don't forget the eggs!
  • Finally, serve the dish: noodles at the bottom, veggies, and Halloumi on top.
  • Next step, vitally important, Time To EAT!

Time to plate!

The flavors of this dish knock the tastebuds from sheer enjoyment to Babylon. The noodles have this crisp and starchy dichotomy that is sheer lusciousness. The veggies still al dente and full of sweetness, earthiness and spice. I can taste the lemongrass offering some well thought out bright notes, however, the halloumi is the star of the show. Packed with flavors from the five spice to those bits of garlic and ginger, and that bit of soy sauce allows the color of the halloumi to transform. As a result, beautiful dark mysterious golden hues.

The whole dish as a canvas is a stunning representation of color, texture, and dimension.

Have you ever tried Halloumi? My suggestion is, get some heat up that wok. I want to hear those knives working away chopping those wonderful veggies, and finally hearing the sounds of searing in the wok.

Make tonight Asian/Middle Eastern fusion night. Wok up some Halloumi and Vegetable Stir Fry!

Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 - 4 1 x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Asian
  • Diet: Vegan


This Vegan Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry is saucy, spicy, and delicious! Skip the restaurant takeout and make this cozy asian-inspired dish at home.

Chinese-Style Vegetables with Tofu USDA

Add broccoli. Simmer uncovered over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.

Add squash. Simmer uncovered over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes.

Fold in bell peppers. Simmer uncovered over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.

Add carrots, tofu, water, soy sauce, garlic powder, pepper, ginger, and Asian spice. Simmer uncovered over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.

See Stir Fry Sauce recipe for ingredients and directions.

Add stir fry sauce to vegetables and tofu in stockpot. Heat uncovered over low heat for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Pour 1 gal 1 qt (about 10 lb) vegetable mixture into a steam table pan (12" x 20" x 2 1/2").

For 50 servings, use 2 pans.

Portion with 6 fl oz spoodle (3/4 cup).

Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per Serving (0.75cup)

This recipe has not been tested or standardized by Healthy School Recipes. The outcome, allergen information, and nutrient data may vary depending on the specific ingredients and equipment used in your location.

This Post Has 3 Comments

Recipe notes a Stir Fry Sauce, anyone have access to the original recipe for the Stir Fry Sauce? Trying to understand the Notes section on this recipe, green onions??

Hi Christine – I found the Stir Fry sauce recipe in question. I’m going to email you the file, and then we will get it published here on the website and clear up the confusion. Thanks for bringing this up so that we could figure it out.

Get the most out the fresh tofu products from Phoenix Bean when you try one of these tasty recipes.

Phoenix Bean Spicy Tofu Stir Fry


10 oz. Phoenix Bean fried extra firm tofu
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ yellow onion, coarsely chopped
½ to 1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. hot garlic chili sauce
½ red bell pepper, 1” pieces
2 tsp. light soy sauce
½ tsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. black bean sauce (optional)
Cilantro or chopped green onion for garnish (optional)

  1. Open the bag of tofu and rinse it in water pat dry.
  2. Cut tofu into six cubes per slice.
  3. Heat vegetable oil on medium-high heat.
  4. Add onion and red pepper and stir fry 1 minute.
  5. Add hot garlic chili sauce and black bean sauce, light soy sauce and sugar.
  6. Stir fry another 3-4 minutes or until tofu is warm.
  7. Garnish with cilantro and/or onion serve warm.

NOTE: For a spicier dish, triple the amount of hot garlic chili sauce.

Phoenix Tofu Noodle Salad for Four


8 oz. bag Phoenix Bean tofu noodles
16 pieces baby carrots
4 stalks celery
2 stems green onion

1 head mustard greens or squash
2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
½ to 1 teaspoon salt

  1. Open the bag of noodles and rinse in water let dry.
  2. Cut noodles to 2-inch lengths.
  3. Cut baby carrots, celery, green onions and mustard greens or squash into thin slices.
  4. In a bowl, mix dressing ingredients (olive oil, sugar, salt).
  5. Add noodles and toss.
  6. Adjust the saltiness to your taste.
  7. Cover the bowl and serve at room temperature.

Phoenix Turmeric-Ginger Tofu Stir Fry


1 red pepper, sliced
3 tsp. minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil (optional)
¼ cup water

1 tbsp. turmeric powder or corn starch
14 oz. bag of Phoenix Bean fresh extra firm tofu
3 tbsp. soy sauce (optional)
½ tsp. salt
vegetables such as sliced green onion, bell pepper, cabbage, etc.

  1. Sauté the minced pepper, ginger, and garlic in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Add the water, stirring until well combined.
  3. Add tofu and cook, stirring frequently until heated through, about 6 minutes.
  4. Add the soy sauce and salt and stir fry for 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. (Optional) Add vegetables to the skillet and stir fry until the vegetables are tender but crisp, about 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in the turmeric and simmer over low heat until tofu and vegetables are ready.

Phoenix Tofu Cheese

(recipe based on tofufortwo.net)


1 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. brown rice wine vinegar
½ to 1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. granulated sugar

2 tsp. lime juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
14 oz. Phoenix Bean extra firm tofu (1 bag)
1 tbsp. canola oil

  1. Do not press water out of the tofu.
  2. Mix all marinade ingredients except the oil (soy sauce, vinegar, salt, sugar, lime juice, garlic) in a bowl.
  3. Squeeze tofu with clean hands so it becomes grainy.
  4. Mash the tofu and spices for a few minutes until they are all incorporated.
  5. Squeeze the mixture between fingers to make it smooth.
  6. Mix in the oil with a fork.
  7. Adjust the saltiness.
  8. Cover the container with a lid.
  9. Refrigerate overnight.

©2019 Phoenix Bean LLC, 5438 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640 USA Phone: (773) 784-2503 &bull Fax: (773) 784-3177 &bull Email: [email protected]

Grown in Illinois, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Cholesterol Free, No Trans Fat, Kosher.

Chinese Name: 干煸豆角 gān biān dòu jiǎo
Flavor: salty
Ingredients: green bean and dried red chili
Cooking Methods: dry-fry

Dry frying is a special cooking methods in Sichuan, that is, deep fry the ingredient in the wok with cooking oil over low heat until the water contained in the ingredient is totally evaporated, then stir fry the ingredients with seasonings over high heat. Dry-fried green beans is the most welcomed dry-fried dishes. The green bean is rich in protein, vitamin and unsaturated fatty acid. It tastes salty and a little bit spicy, making it go well with rice.

Where are we this month?

When I heard where we were stopping this month on The Eat the World tour I was so excited. Nicoletta didn't even rally for wanting to do a recipe, more so, she knew that I absolutely love this type of cuisine, so she bowed out and allowed me to play! However, she did help me with getting the dish together, always working as a team! Today we are traveling to Laos and we are creating Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu!

A bit about Laos

Laos is a Southeast Asian country known for its mountains and lush terrain. Did you know that they say Buddhas Breastbone lays in Laos? Thinking about Laos, all I kept envisioning is color and flavor. Nicoletta and I did some research and came to the conclusion that we wanted something vegetarian and also fun and easy to make. That is why we chose this particular dish. I think you would agree it is colorful and resonates joyfulness, deliciousness!

Prepping the tofu and vegetables

I always say the key to a great stir fry is organization and having all the ingredients ready. The list goes something like this:

  • Drain the tofu and cut into bite-size cubes
  • Cut up the carrots, celery, peppers, into thin slivers
  • Wash and trim long green beans and broccolini
  • Chop up the onion and mince the garlic
  • Wash and pat dry the snow peapods

It's all about the sauce!

To get that balance of sweet and sour we need a few things:

  • sweet soy sauce
  • light soy sauce
  • tamarind
  • hoisin sauce
  • sweet chili sauce
  • ketchup
  • Chinese five-spice
  • white pepper
  • sugar
  • rice wine vinegar
  • cornstarch
  • water

Texture is the bomb!

When I eat a stir fry dish like this Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu, I want a nice play in texture: crunch, crisp, succulent, and tenderness!

  1. First things first, we need to get those lovely cubes of tofu marinated with soy sauce, and then all coated with cornstarch. This will crisp up when we fry them in the hot oil in the wok. After they are nice and crisp onto a paper towel-lined dish they go, to soak up any excess oil.
  2. Secondly, time to get those veggies cooked up. I use peanut oil and sesame oil in the wok. When it's nice and hot I begin slowly adding the harder veggies first, followed by the softer one after. Stir-frying demands lots of tossing. We don't want those veggies steamed, we want that end result of crunch at first bite, followed by some tenderness.
  3. Thirdly, we toss in our crispy tofu just before the veggies are almost done! A quick toss and we are ready to finish this amazing dish!

Flavor, flavor!

It is time to get the flavor into the wok. Before starting, I took all the ingredients for the sauce and whisked it in a bowl. I also mixed up some cold water and cornstarch!

Time to get this mixture into the hot wok. Slowly pour it in and toss and turn, flip with no flop! Wow, the aroma coming off the wok is amazingly sweet, acidic, savory, my stomach is growling!

Do you like what you see?

I am totally proud of how this turned out. It has color, aroma, texture and the addition of the toasted sesame seeds makes it a thing of beauty. Nicoletta is quite excited to try and she is giving me that look, similar to I'M HUNGRY! lol.

Where do I start?

My mind is just buzzing. There is so much to try! Honestly, the first thing is that tofu! I love the crispiness of the surface and then you bite in deeper and there is this moist luxurious melt in your mouth creaminess! Then the veggies: the snow peas, crisp, sweet, along with those onions, and slivered carrots, and peppers. I like how the celery offers this nice fresh lightly peppery note to the whole and the broccolini that earthy-sweet deep robust richness we love so much.

Let's talk sauce!

What really pulls everything together in this Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu, is that sweet and sour sauce. I love how the ketchup is deepened with the hoisin, tamarind, and soy. Then the vinegar comes up with a right hook to your taste buds only to be leveled out by the sugar. It is like a flavor explosion. Absolutely love it!

Final thoughts

We always feel so honored to be a part of this fantastic group. Oh, by the way, check out all the wonderful Laotian dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!

Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Khao Nom Kok (Lao Coconut Cakes)
Pandemonium Noshery: Laotian Party Noodles - Kua Mee
Making Miracles: Lao Grilled Chicken
Sneha’s Recipe Sai Gog Khao Jee
Kitchen Frau: Ping Gai (Lao Grilled Chicken Wings)
Sugarlovespices (us!): Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Pork Larb
Cultureatz: Pumpkin Coconut Milk Custard ( Sang kaya mak eu)

So join all of us in Laos and let's cook up some of these exotic dishes together!